I was too lazy (i.e., way too lazy) over the weekend to post David Ehrenstein‘s mubi.com praising of Angelina Jolie‘s In The Land of Blood and Honey (Film District, 12.23). But here it is with edits:
“Beyond Gobsmacked by In the Land of Blood and Honey, which I saw at a sneak preview yesterday [i.e., presumably Friday] afternoon. It’s a stark and truly shocking drama of the Bosnian Civil War of the 1990’s. This was genocide on a massive scale that was rigorously ignored by the west. At one point we hear Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeline Albright saying the U.S. ‘didn’t have a dog in this fight.’ Ugh!
“What we see here is the story of what happened ot a particular woman, played by an actress I’ve never seen or heard of before — Zana Marjanovic, who is absolutely world-class. So is her leading man Goran Kostic.
“Kostic plays a Bosnian soldier who is romancing Marjanovic at a dance in the opening scene. Then a bomb goes off. Months pass and a convoy arrives at our heroine’s apartment block. Everyone is ordered out. All the men are executed. The belongings of all the women are confiscated. Anyone who balks is shot in the head. Several of the women are chosen to be raped (anally, of course) in front of their friends. This is all about degradation and humiliation.
“The soldier our heroine knew is now a commander. He discovers she’s been rounded up and takes her aside to use her as his own personal servant. He renews their relationship on a romantic level — which she seems to accept. But what she feels is in this situation beside the point as she’s a prisoner.
“Kostic’s father, played by Rade Serbedzija (the only name actor in the cast, best recalled as the costume chop owner in Eyes Wide Shut) insists she’s nothing more than a ‘Muslim whore’ and that his son ‘should finish with this.’
“Needless to say it ends badly for all. But that’s not the point of the film. The point is to expose MASS GENOCIDE that was DELIBERATELY IGNORED. Kind of like the way Penn State ignored child rape.
“And now the Big News. This film was written and directed by Angelina Jolie.
“I always knew she had a lot on the ball, especially from what Don Bachardy has told me about her. But never to this extent. The most glamorous woman in the world is As Serious As A Heart Attack. She is a Major Filmmaker at the very start of what I expect will be a long career.
“Not to be missed under any circumstances.”